Saturday, December 3, 2011

Young at Heart - from Randi M Sherman, author of Paula Takes a Risk, Available March 2012

Young at Heart

One day, while at work, the president of the company summoned me into her office.  I wondered what I had done wrong.  This couldn’t be good news.  She never fraternized with her employees.  If fact, the only reasons she spoke with us was to deliver a speech about tightening belts, or to reprimand or to trick someone into volunteering for an undesirable task.  I walked that last mile toward her office and my mind raced as I tried to recall what I might have done that would not have been considered, “company policy.”

When I arrived, her office door was open and she was involved in heated telephone conversation.  She spotted me, snapped her fingers, waved me in and motioned for me to close the door and sit down.  Minutes passed like hours as I waited for her call to end.  She hung up the phone and stood up. 

“I’ve noticed you,” she said. 

Knowing not to press the issue, I just smiled politely.  Then she came around to the front of the desk and leaned against it.  She crossed her arms, sized me up and made an effort to smile.  It looked as if it hurt. 

In a rather annoying rhetorical manner she got right to the point.  “You don’t have a boyfriend do you?” 

Huh?  I couldn’t imagine what this had to do with my job performance.  Then I realized that this was a social meeting

“I want you to meet a friend of mine,” she insisted.

 A friend of hers?  Did she have friends?  I had never given any thought to the fact that she would have any friends.  This had to be a test.  I wasn’t interested in meeting her friend, but I had to be diplomatic. After all, I did work for her. 

I smiled appreciatively and with a confident upward tilt to my head and a sing-song quality to my voice I said, “Thank you for thinking of me but I really don’t have the time to get date anyone right now.  Between work, classes and my, already active, social life, I hardly have enough time for myself.  Thanks anyway.”  I was sure that the content and delivery of this speech was Academy Award material.  But she didn’t buy it. 

She looked directly at me a said, “You’re lying to me.”  “My husband and I have a friend…” She dived right in.  “He was involved in a long-term relationship which has just ended, badly.”  She assured me that he was not necessarily looking for a romantic relationship.  “He’s a little gun shy right now.  He’s just looking for someone to go places with.  I want you to meet him.  He’ll be calling you later this week.” 

What could I say?  She was scary, I worked for her and she had already given him my telephone number.  Frankly, I was intimidated by her.

She stood up, walked around her desk, sat down in her executive style swivel chair and waved me off.  As I was about to open the door, she said, “Oh by the way, he’s somewhat older that you are but he’s young at heart.” 

I closed the door behind me and tried to evaluate what had just transpired.  What undesirable task was just assigned to me?  The information that she had provided was vague and general. There had to be a good reason for it and I was bound to find out why.

“Young at heart,” sure.  But, old at face and ancient at body.  The fact that this man merely had the will to live, did not make him young.  Breathing without the benefit of medical machinery, eating pudding without his teeth and first hand discussions regarding his recent prostate surgery were talents that were wasted on me.

He had been, recently dumped by a woman who he now referred to as “the bitch .”  According to him, she drained him monetarily and emotionally, then maliciously and without warning, cast him aside.  Over the past few months she had become demented and developed a number of serious emotional problems, none of which he had anything to do with.  “Funny,” I thought. “Why is it that she was perfectly normal when they met, and then, over the course of their relationship, developed psychotic tendencies?  Someone should do the math.”  Though advertised differently, he was on the rebound and desperately seeking a woman, on whom he could use his transference skills. 

The calendar of dating events included several telephone discussions about his misunderstood and abused qualities.  He kept telling me how wonderful, thoughtful and sensitive he was.  He called me too often.  He was possessive.  He was self-obsessed.  Anytime my attention would wane, he would exhale with a whimper. Shortly after he succeeded in thoroughly annoying me with his mosquito-like qualities, he informed me that I was getting too serious.  Then, as a finale, he announced that he needed “his space.”  All this, before I rode in his car.

The report of the “break-up” had reached the office before I did.  The boss called me into her office and this time she cast aside her prize winning interpersonal skills.  Slamming the office door behind her, she demanded to know what had happened.

 “Well,” I explained, “He’s a great guy, but I think he’s looking for a woman who can handle his past and will be satisfied with his somewhat limited future.”

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